Friday, December 28, 2012

Kathy K. Afrasiabi-Evans' dissertation on, "Optimism’s Relationship to Physical Health and General Level of Functioning Among the Severely Mentally Ill"

Kathy K. Afrasiabi-Evans, Fielding's School of Psychology

Optimism is an important mechanism of mental health recovery and a major concern for patients with mental illness (van Gestel-Timmermans, van den Bogaard, Brouwers, Herth, & Nieuwenhuizen, 2010). Consequently, the study of optimism is important for understanding its relationship to recovery, as are instruments that measure optimism, since these are likely to be useful for treatment and research. Another variable possibly influenced by or linked to optimism is physical wellbeing. Many studies have studied the relationship between optimism and mental illness or optimism and physical illness. However, this exploratory non-experimental dissertation utilized cross-tabulation tests (chi-squares), correlations, and stepwise multiple regressions to explore the relationship and differences between optimism, physical health, and general level of functioning at the same time. This study’s hypothesis was tested by comparing the self-report data of 445 clients who were administered a life satisfaction survey at four San Bernardino, California, County Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) clinics, with their clinicians’ perceptions of the clients’ general functioning. A positive relationship was found between the clients’ perceptions of their optimism level and the clinicians’ perceptions of the clients’ general level of functioning (as measured by DSM-IV-TR Global Assessment of Functioning- GAF-scores), but not with their (clients’) self-rated physical health. Also, it was discovered that the relationship between optimism and good physical health with general level of functioning differed between diagnostic groups. Finally, women and Latino clients were diagnosed more with depression than males and clients in other ethnic groups.

Key Words: optimism, Global Assessment of Functioning, physical health, severely mentally ill, general level of functioning, recovery movement.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Christine Ka-Po Mok-Lammé's dissertation on, "Chinese Americans’ Acculturation and Enculturation as Predictors of Comfort Level with Cognition- or Emotion-Focused Psychotherapy: A Test of a Bilinear, Multidimensional Model

Christine Ka-Po Mok-Lammé, Fielding's School of Psychology

Using a bilinear, multidimensional model of acculturation, the present study explored relationships between Chinese Americans’ cultural orientation level and their comfort level with psychotherapy when the focus of intervention was on either cognition or emotion. The sample was composed of 92 Chinese American participants with a wide range of backgrounds.

Each participant was randomly assigned to read a cognition-focused or emotion-focused vignette. After reading the vignette, participants responded to questionnaires that measured their comfort level with the vignette, their behavioral acculturation, behavioral enculturation, values acculturation, values enculturation, and emotional self-control levels. The results indicated that Chinese Americans with higher level of emotional self-control predicted lower “likeliness to seek counseling” with the cognition-focused therapy. Participants with higher behavioral enculturation predicted higher “likeliness to seek counseling” with the emotion-focused therapy.

These unexpected findings have significant clinical implications. Cultural orientation is a complex framework and needs to be understood in light of individual differences and underlying unconscious dynamics.

Friday, December 14, 2012

JoAnn M. Clayton's dissertation on, "Teachers’ Perspectives of Ways to Improve an Elementary School’s Supplemental Reading Program"

JoAnn M. Clayton, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

To improve students’ reading abilities, an elementary school staff decided to supplement the regular curriculum with a free Internet reading program. To promote student participation in the supplemental program, the media specialist designed the Gumball Reading Program, which included student requirements and rewards. The requirements included parent signatures to verify students’ reading at home, book reports, and testing on books read. The rewards for progress in the program included free passes to local baseball games, ice cream, candy bars, and gumball machines.

Data showed that lower grade students participated more than upper grade students in the program. Fifth grade had only 4% of their students complete Level 6, while first grade had 76% of their students reach the same level. The faculty and staff at the school were interviewed to gain their perspectives of ways to enhance the program. Thirty-nine of the 44 participants invited participated in the action research study.

Teachers and administrators acknowledged they had great influence regarding motivating students to participate. They also felt the lack of parental involvement discouraged student involvement; however, the vast majority of participants felt requiring parents to sign reading logs resulted in an inaccurate representation of students’ participation and had a negative impact on effectiveness. At the upper level, other activities such as an emphasis on mathematics competed with the reading program. The findings suggest students should be encouraged to write book reports in class rather than at home and that class time for silent-sustained reading especially in the lower grades would be helpful. The study uncovered a need for teachers to schedule media center visits to help students check out appropriate grade-level books.

Most teachers said their students were willing to work for the prizes and most liked the rewards offered in the program; however, students in the lower and upper grades appeared to prefer different types of rewards. Recommendations were made to enhance and change some of the rewards, such as making rewards more frequent.

Key Words: action research, student motivation, elementary school, supplemental reading program

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Leona Nacole Predom Love's dissertation on, "Air is Our Birthright ...Micro Radio Broadcasters = Community Servants or Criminals?: A 'Dissertatiumentary' on Berkeley Liberation Radio"

Leona Nacole Predom Love, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

This work is an experiment, an almost alternative dissertation. It is best digested openly and should the reader choose to keep to tradition expect to be challenged, maybe even uncomfortable, maybe even enlightened.

This project seeks to challenge the status quo in academia as well as systems that impede our ability to communicate most effectively. It is the story of Berkeley Liberation Radio (BLR) presented in the research as a documentary entitled “Berkeley Liberation Radio: Micro Power for the People.”

Additionally, the story is told by BLR’s diverse collective, a group of informal critical race theorists who desire to create “an alternative, diverse, vibrant society and community free of racism, sexism, homophobia, and all other forms of oppression” (Mission). This dissertation serves to fulfill gaps in the current literature and provide a catalyst for unification of the larger movement of media activism. Furthermore this “dissertatiumentary” represents symbolic justice, standing in solidarity with micro radio broadcasters all over the world for without them there would be no low-powered frequency modulation (LPFM) or community radio.

The documentary chronicles the lives of 15 members of the BLR collective over the course of a year as well as solicits public opinion at large to assess individual perceptions of micro radio broadcasting at various happenings and street locations throughout the Bay Area. Using documentary as the means for data dissemination affords more opportunity to access this knowledge and determine for oneself if pirate radio broadcasters are the FCC criminals they are made out to be of if they are servants of humanity? Thus dissertatiumentary feels like liberation as I was able to approach education using my whole self and not just what is confined to the compartmentalization of my head. This is my testimony of what one can produce outside the confines of tradition and stands as advocacy not only for pirate radio but also for acceptance and integration of spirituality in academia.

KEY WORDS: alternative dissertation, LPFM, pirate radio, Berkeley Liberation Radio, Organic Inquiry, Critical Race Theory, “dissertatiumentary”, youth and radio, women and radio, African-Americans and radio, entertainment-education.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Donnie James Talley's dissertation on, "A Dismantling Study of Dialectical Behavior Therapy for Mindfulness with Emotionally Disturbed Adolescents in a Residential Treatment Facility"

Donnie James Talley, Fielding's School of Psychology

Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) has grown in popularity and use since its introduction by Marsha Linehan, PhD. Originally developed for use in her work with those diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, there is little available research clearly identifying the role of each module of the skills being taught when intervening with DBT. This dismantling study, conducted with severely emotionally disturbed adolescents in a residential treatment facility, sought to explore the notion that it is the mindfulness skills training elements of DBT that are responsible for the documented success of this intervention. The study also sought to explore if DBT is an effective intervention to improve emotion regulation skills and reduce borderline personality features in this population.

Keywords: DBT, dialectical behavior therapy, mindfulness, emotion regulation, adolescents, residential treatment.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Winifert E. Lawson-Graves's dissertation on, "Leadership Styles and Creativity: An Examination of the Four Female Ivy League Presidents"

Winifert E. Lawson-Graves, Fielding's School of Educational Leadership & Change

Increasingly, females are taking the helm as president of colleges and universities in the United States, yet men still hold the majority of presidential positions (ACE, 2012). The Ivy League is an exception. In the Ivy League, the presidency is held by an equal number of females and males. For three of four Ivy League institutions where females are leading, it is the first time the institution has been led by a woman.

This study explored the factors that influenced the career advancement and leadership styles of the four female Ivy League presidents, with insights from three of the four females’ former president and mentor/advisor, Dr. Harold Shapiro, President Emeritus of Princeton University. The theoretical framework for the study includes Bass’ (1999) theory of transformational leadership where leaders challenge assumptions, seek change, encourage creativity, and display behaviors of collaboration; Donovan’s (2006) liberal feminist theory that suggests education engenders democracy; Chafetz’ (1997) cultural feminist theory, a form of radical feminism that embraces the distinct differences between males and females; and Epstein’s (1999) generativity theory, where he posits that newness is a hallmark of creativity; among others.

This study used a descriptive mixed method, case study approach. The factors that have influenced the four female Ivy League presidents’ careers and their insights into their leadership styles were compared from online video interviews, printed interviews, and a face-to-face interview with Dr. Shapiro. The results suggest that the four female presidents exhibit strong behaviors in transformational leadership styles; that their careers were influenced by their ability to be creative, both personally and professionally; and influences from family members, former teachers, colleagues, and their own self-efficacy, which advanced their efforts to make a difference and effect change. Females who aspire to become presidents of institutions of higher education can learn from the factors that influenced the careers of the four Ivy League female presidents.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Laura L. Hauser's dissertation on, "Shape-Shifting: A Conceptual Framework for Coaching Work Teams"

Laura L. Hauser, Fielding's School of Human & Organizational Development

This study explored a relatively unexamined but emerging issue in practice and research: coaching work teams conducted by an external coach. It examined the role behaviors of external coaches and the influencers of those role behaviors when coaching a work team. A qualitative descriptive study was conducted using thematic analysis of interviews with eight experienced coaches located in the United States. Four role behaviors were identified: advisor, educator, catalyzer, and assimilator. Four influencers on these behaviors also were identified: coach background, client perceptions and readiness, coaching goals, and systemic context. The findings led to five conclusions: (a) External coaches who work with teams shape-shift role behaviors along both directive and dialogic continuums over time; (b) external coaches attempt to reduce role confusion about the emerging practice of coaching work teams by describing their role based on the coaches’ understanding of their clients’ experiences and perceptions of coaching; (c) coaching a work team is more complex than coaching individuals due to the systemic context; (d) the effect of working with a team’s larger organizational system is greater than coaching only one part of the system, thus, creating leverage; and (e) coaching work teams, compared to coaching individuals, requires a broader base of knowledge, skills, and experience, notably related to team performance, group dynamics, team development, and systems. This study contributes to the literature as the first empirical study about coaching in the context of work teams conducted by external coaches that culminated with the development of a new framework called Shape-Shifting: A Conceptual Framework for Coaching Work Teams. The framework can inform a range of constituents including researchers, organizational leaders, organization development consultants, coach psychologists, and educators. This study further contributes to the literature by pointing to distinctions between coaching individuals and coaching teams, and between coaching and facilitating a team. Lastly, this study proposes an expanded definition of team coaching inclusive of both internal (manager) and external coaches. These various findings and the shape-shifting framework may deepen understanding about the benefits, limitations, practices, and unresolved questions about coaching work teams.

Key Words: executive coaching, team coaching, group and team development, organization change and development, role behavior

Monday, December 3, 2012

Susan M. Spicer's dissertation on, "Cognitive Development of Right Hemisphere Functioning From Ages 4 to 8"

Susan M. Spicer, Fielding's School of Psychology 

Tests of gestalt completion, affect recognition, and theory of mind were administered to 322 children ages 4 to 8. There was consistent improvement in gestaltic ability over this age range, but the performance of children at age 8 was significantly below the previously found adult level. Affect recognition and theory of mind also showed improvement, but the development for neither was uniform. Affect recognition showed a plateau at ages 5-6. Theory of mind appeared to develop in two spurts, 4-5 and 6-7. Abilities in affect recognition and gestaltic closure were related at ages 5-7, but not at ages 4 or 8. There were no significant relationships between gestaltic ability and theory of mind at any age, indicating that the development of these abilities occur independently in normal children through this age range. The ramifications of these results are discussed.

KEY WORDS: Gestaltic Completion, Gestaltic Closure, Affect Recognition, Theory of Mind, Right Hemisphere, Developmental Trajectory